Immigrant Teachers in Singapore Schools: Backgrounds, Integration, and Diversification , pp. 3 of 11

The Study: immigrant Teachers in Mainstream Singapore Schools

In this study, an ‘immigrant teacher’ is defined as someone born or raised outside Singapore, not educated in Singapore at K-12 stage, and working as a teacher in a mainstream (thus excluding international schools, madrasahs, and other specialized schools) primary or secondary school that comes under the Singapore government. An immigrant teacher may hold a work pass, or permanent residence (PR) or citizenship status in Singapore.

To gather demographic data on the immigrant teachers, an online survey request was disseminated via the principals of all mainstream primary and secondary schools in the country. Principals who approved of the study would then have forwarded the survey to eligible teachers for their voluntary participation. Eventually, a total of 144 valid responses were collected. While this study does not claim to make highly reliable predictions, the sample size obtained (n=144) means that the survey findings can be expected to be reasonably indicative of the immigrant teacher population.

In addition to the survey, the study used interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to gather qualitative data to obtain in-depth insights into immigrant teachers’ experiences. Interview and FGD participants were recruited from survey respondents who expressed interest. In total, 23 immigrant teachers (China-background=7; Malaysia-background=7; India-background=5; other backgrounds=4) took part in one-on-one interviews—in most cases, two interviews for each participant. Two FGDs, respectively involving two and three immigrant teacher discussants, were conducted. Additionally, four FGDs were carried out with local school leaders and teachers to obtain their perspectives and experiences working with immigrant teachers. The survey was administered in English; interviews with nine MT (Chinese) teachers and one of the FGDs involving two MT (Chinese) teachers were conducted in Mandarin; the remaining interviews/FGDs were all carried out in English. All sessions were fully transcribed in their respective medium languages and coded using the NVivo software subsequently.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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